–By Terry Ritter, Team OAM NOW Masters Cyclist
For the last decade I have been in awe of the acts of one man: Raymond Dybowski. Oh, sure, I’m with everyone else when it comes to being mystified at his ability to casually escape the main group and just roll away. The non-threatening vibe his motion exudes boggles the mind when you realize he’s done it a number of times and actually had success. No, what I hold “Big Ray” in reverence for is the rarely seen “Trifecta.” This is when you do 3 different Criterium races on the same day. Typically, with our structure in Michigan, that means a Masters 45+, then 35+, and followed by a Pro 1/2 race. I have witness his attempts a few times, and always thought it’d be a cool thing to try.
Unfortunately, the structure of our road teams prevents me from just doing a 1/2 race, even though I have a Cat. 2 license. If I did two other events in a day, I’d be useless to the boys, and that likely would be bad form. However, a special situation came up with a Criterium in Galion, Ohio. They not only had a more sedate (I hoped) 50+ Masters race (I am officially 50 on my racing license this year), but also a 40+ right after. Then, a few hours and the P/1/2/3 race would start as the sun was setting. This could be my chance!
If I had this control over other factors of my life, I would not have worked 12 hours on my feet the day before, or driven 3+ hours to get to the event. Oh, and also would not have pegged the thermometer at 90+ the entire race day. But, I was signed up, had my trusty co-pilot and teammate Andrew Guelzo along (he spins the tunes), and lots of ice in the cooler.
The 50+ Masters race had a dozen riders, two of which were actually familiar faces: Scott Kroski of the Wolverines, and Hendry Swinty of the Ft. Wayne Outfitters. The former I see weekly and the later races in Michigan a lot, and quite successfully. My hope was this small group would be easy to watch from the back, and also not be too charged up with the heat and a 45 min race duration. That prediction was correct and I camped out and drank lots, letting others close gaps as I followed. Then, with 6 laps to go, Scott took a flier. Being a fellow Michigander, I really couldn’t chase, so I waited to see if anyone else would. A few guys worked at the front, and someone made a weak attempt to go across, but it all brought us back together with 2 laps.
Terry grabbed a podium in his first race of the day- Master’s 50+
By this point I was setting third wheel and watching the front. Scott had slotted right behind me. With two quick turns and then an uphill grade and 300 m to the line, I was ready. But as the guy in front of me jumped as the leader went wide on the second to last corner, I hesitated. By time I shortened the gap we were ready to sprint, and I effectively gave Scott a decent leadout. He got second and I held on for third. My mistake and hats off to him for aggressive racing.
Scott, Henry, and I lined up for the 40+ race, which was the same duration. Still thinking I should be conserving, I did get a little more assertive in my position, and this allowed me the sight of seeing a guy bolt on the second lap. I watched to see if anyone would follow and, on the third lap, a guy jumped out and gave chase. At this point, there was still 40 mins of racing and it was easy to talk myself into not moving. I figured Henry or Scott would eventually try. The lead duo was about 30 seconds up with 30 mins of racing when Henry struck out. After he rolled 50 meters and I didn’t think anyone was going to follow, I bridged out.
The pace was high but I figured I’d get a chance to catch my breath as it was obvious we were cutting the gap down and the main group was left for dead it seemed. But, the head wind and Henry’s diminutive size made it hard for me to get any rest. After 4 laps of chasing we had cut the lead down to 12 seconds with 20 mins of racing left. Henry jumped when I was gassed on a pull and I couldn’t close it down. Andy said I had 30 seconds so I pushed through in TT mode the last 6 laps and finished in 4th .
When I asked Henry how he did against the two lead guys, he stated he never caught them…and that he needed one more guy to help him. I stood there speechless, with the satisfaction that there is racing karma after all.
With a few hours before the P/1/2/3 race, I hung out in the shade and chatted with Ross Williams, who races Cat. 3 on our team. He had came down with his parents from Traverse City. Just then a gust of wind knocked Ross’s Giant Propel over. This seemed innocent enough until Ross came back from his attempted warm up to show me a very bent derailleur hanger preventing any reasonable shifting. Fortunately, I had a spare and he was up and running again in less than 10 mins.
Terry, Andrew, and Ross line up for the P/1/2/3 race
The final race started at 8:00 pm and 91 degrees. The field was about 30 guys, with Ross, Andy, and I at the line. It started fast enough, then it got faster. About 10 mins in a rider had taken a wheel change and came from the wheel pit, past the peloton, which was averaging 27.5 MPH, straight to the front and then off the front! The group picked up the pace for the next 10 mins, which preceded to pop me and a few others. Eventually, the young buck lapped the field that was down to about 15 riders with 5 laps remaining.
For me, that wasn’t the most excitement. Just as Ross was coming unhitched from the back, Andy rolled through with the group but was obviously off the pace and looked like he’d given up as he crossed the start/finish line. I figured he was going to spin, so Ross, Jeff Johnson from EPS (another Michigan team) and I went out. We never ran into Andy and, upon returning to the course, the various stories started coming in detailing his demise.
Ross’s parents were holding Andy’s bike and explained they were told Andy crashed…but that made no sense. After I talked to an official, they said he’d stopped at a corner marshal and was being treated by paramedics. Still kitted up, and with my race wheels on, I rolled over to the direction they pointed. There, a corner marshal explained that Andy had came through after the group and the guy had to catch him to prevent him from falling off his bike. Andy then started ripping of his equipment. Finally, some paramedics took him to the hospital. At this point, I wasn’t sure what to do. But, Galion is a small town and, sure enough, the kind people at that corner gave me easy directions and I was at the ER in 10 mins (still on my bike, in a skinsuit that displayed the salt of three races).
Unfortunately, they had no record of Andrew. I left a number and headed back to the race course only to get flagged down by Ross’s dad, telling me Andy was back and fine. Sure enough, I found him talking to a young woman, with his magnetic smile on full display. He explained how he’d gotten a terrible cramp in his side and couldn’t go on, how he’d gotten to the corner marshal but about fell over, and then couldn’t stand having his clothing on any longer. I pretended to follow but was just happy he wasn’t suffering from any condition that would require treatment.
From there we licked our wounds, packed up the car, and headed back to our great state. We’d had some fun, even experienced an adventure, and made some new friends. Next year, though, I have to be a little better prepared if I ever hope to mirror my endurance hero, as I missed out on my own Trifecta.